The ACLU of Nebraska is proud to support the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 30th Anniversary. On July 26th we celebrate this important civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. Celebrate with us by visiting www.adaanniversary.org/ or learn more about the ADA by reading the following essays:
Accessibility of government information and resources is pertinent to ensure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. Government accessibility is a broad spectrum that touches many lives: people with disabilities, homeless and impoverished people, and immigrants, refugees, and asylees. Having ways to ensure that varying populations of people have access to government-issued information, especially amidst a global pandemic, is not only crucial for their health and safety but important to ensuring a healthy democracy.
Local Nebraska governmental entities are working to ensure the accessibility of government proceedings and information. Some are even exceeding the standard to ensure their communities are continuously involved with political processes and updated on the spread of COVID-19. We at the ACLU of Nebraska wanted to acknowledge those who are working to keep all Nebraskans informed.
While watching announcements made by Gov. Pete Ricketts or mayors across the state, most people will see someone standing right alongside them to provide translations of the information into American Sign Language (ASL). NET Nebraska provides closed captioning for their livestream videos of the Nebraska Legislature and the governor's press conferences. LNKTV, which broadcasts Lincoln city government proceedings and announcements, is actively in the works of adding a live closed captioning system. The broadcasts from LNKTV are currently re-aired on LNKTV Youtube Channel with added closed captioning. City and county governments need to continue to provide these kinds of accommodations to ensure that people who are deaf or hard of hearing are able to obtain important information.
The United States has no official language; however, all government documents are issued in English, making them inaccessible to those who don’t speak English or are perhaps just learning the language. While the state and regional health departments have links to CDC-translated information about COVID-19, cities like Lincoln are making sure that broadcasts from the mayor and city council are being translated into multiple languages such as Arabic, Vietnamese, Spanish, Chinese, Kurmanji and Karen. These translations can once again be found on the LNKTV Youtube Channel.
Participating in public commentary on issues is a key part of our civic democracy and for many the ability to do so has been limited thanks to COVID-19. The Lincoln City Council has taken the step to ensure that those who are restricted with being in social settings due to their safety can participate in public comment at meetings via Zoom call-in. This measure is only temporary and requires signing up to comment with the city clerk, but this action enabled 5 hours of public commenting to happen at one of the first meetings to include this option.
Keeping government information accessible for the general public is key to ensuring that our communities stay informed and civically engaged. Keep checking back for more updates about how local governments are being accessible as this pandemic continues. Want to recognize your local government offices for going above and beyond to be accessible? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.